To enhance public safety and protect taxpayers, Gov. Jay Nixon told local leaders at Fulton City Hall today that the “time is now” to move forward with rebuilding Fulton State Hospital. Gov. Nixon discussed his proposal to move quickly to set aside funding for appropriation-backed bonds this year for the construction of a new maximum and intermediate security psychiatric facility in Fulton. By setting aside funding this year, the Governor’s proposal expedites the process to begin construction.
“Fulton State Mental Hospital is Missouri’s only maximum security psychiatric facility -- a facility is crumbling and in desperate need of replacement,” Gov. Nixon said. “Over the past year, we have seen growing bipartisan consensus on the urgent need to rebuild Fulton State Mental Hospital, to protect taxpayers and the safety of all Missourians. The time is now to address this critical public safety priority.”
The Governor has included $14 million in his Fiscal Year 2014 supplemental budget proposal which was presented to the legislature earlier this week. These funds, along with an additional $14 million in the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal, will set aside two years’ worth of bond payments in advance to provide the resources needed for the state to issue bonds generating up to $198 million for the facility’s construction.
Gov. Nixon’s proposal will help replace this antiquated and deteriorating facility with a new maximum and intermediate security complex that will be safer and more conducive to modern treatment. A new, safer facility will also protect taxpayers by reducing workers’ compensation claims and recruiting more staff to reduce overtime costs. Last year, the Department of Mental Health reports that workers’ compensation claims from the hospital cost $4 million and overtime costs exceeded $3.5 million.
“This project is critical to the safety of the patients and the employees at Fulton State Hospital,” said Matt Gowin, Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce President. “It also has a positive economic impact on our community and the state, by creating jobs and preventing costly repairs in the future. The Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce supports the Governor’s efforts to build a new Fulton State Hospital, and we look forward to working with other elected leaders to address this top priority as quickly as possible.”
According to studies previously commissioned by the Legislature and other projections by Office of Administration, the cost of this new facility will be $211 million. The Missouri Department of Economic Development estimates that a $211 million construction project could create more than 2,500 new jobs in this area.
The final report of the Senate Interim Committee on Capital Improvement Assessment and Planning, issued on December 1, recommended that the legislature fund renovations and new construction needed for improvements at Fulton State Hospital and identified this issue as one of the state’s top priorities for capital improvement.
Last year, the Gov. Nixon made $13 million in state funding available to begin the planning and design process of a new state hospital. The Governor also implemented a $10 million strategic initiative to help identify and treat people with severe mental illness before they reach crisis point, and help communities respond to those who do. The Governor’s initiative included placing Mental Health Liaisons at each of the 29 Community Mental Health Centers across Missouri; an expansion of Crisis Intervention and Mental Health First-Aid training throughout the state; and resources for emergency room intervention teams to work with patients needing coordinated care.
Missouri has been a consistent and responsible issuer of bonds. This past July, the state retired the Third State Building Bonds, issued from 1983 to 1987. Missouri’s debt per capita is less than half the national average. Since the Governor took office, Missouri’s debt has been dramatically reduced. By Fiscal Year 2018, Missouri will have cut the principal owed in half.
The nation’s top global credit-rating agencies reaffirmed Missouri’s AAA status again this year, citing Gov. Nixon’s fiscally disciplined management of state budget. Missouri’s rare “triple-triple” status reflects Missouri’s long track record of responsible fiscal management.
Built in 1851, the Fulton State Hospital is the oldest state psychiatric hospital west of the Mississippi River and houses the state’s only maximum security psychiatric facility. The Biggs Forensic Center at Fulton treats patients with serious mental illness who are committed by Missouri courts for evaluation and treatment related to a crime, or who have seriously assaulted patients or staff in our other state psychiatric hospitals.